The Two-Way Mirror #10: The Triwizard Tasks and the Seven Books

By Daniela

Introduction: One thing leads to Another

As I heatedly debated with Dave (kuyooper) the merits of my ideas in the “Reading the 7 x 7 Matrix” discussion room, I thought harder and harder about what kinds of structures Rowling may have placed in the books that would explain how I came up with the idea of a chessboard with rows of rearranged tasks and columns of Quidditch Chasers, Beaters, Seekers, and Keepers. My first argument involved the doors being associated with tasks in the first obstacle course: In the Department of Mysteries, we have a constant rearranging of the same doors along the walls of each room, like tasks reproduced in different but analogous obstacle courses. I also thought of the obstacle course designed by Lupin in the third year as a final exam that showed that something like the original obstacle course did return in the books. In addition, the first seven tasks were set in a tunnel, and subsequently, tunnels played an important role in every book. This was one of the first (abandoned) diagrams I had drawn before I came up with the Matrix. We thus have the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone tunnel, the tunnel leading to the Chamber of Secrets in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the tunnels leading to the shrieking shack and Hogsmeade, and the seven underground passages of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “There are seven in all” (193). Seven tunnels of tasks, like seven books of tasks. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we actually have a network of tunnels, the square maze, so much like a chessboard of tasks. And we have the two grand tournaments (like the two matrix groups of elements): one tournament is Quidditch (in which the players seem to be the most important part); the other is the Triwizard Tournament (here, the tasks are important).

 

The Triwizard Tasks

The Triwizard tasks really captured me upon closer inspection. The third task, the Maze, hides within it a whole collection of tasks. Some of our obstacle course friends from Book 1 are so recognizable! We have some definitely clear candidates for the key (the Portkey), the mirror (the golden mist), and the riddle (the sphinx). And so an editorial began to hatch. Then I caught my breath when I read the editorial by Lenora on Connecting the Fates of the Trio: mainly because it mentioned another editorial from October by Anne, The Triwizard Map. I thought that surely she must have said everything I was going to, and I read the editorial with avid interest and apprehension to see what was already said. Anne took a different approach than mine, although she made some interesting observations. And so I get to write a very exciting editorial.

 

Seven Tasks, Seven Books

The purpose of this piece is to try to draw parallels between the tasks of the Triwizard Tournament and the seven books. These parallels seem to me to lead to rather more fruitful theories about what our two remaining future books hold in store. We were all looking for parallels between the initial seven tasks and the seven books. What if the parallels are clearer in Goblet and more symbolic and therefore more cryptic in Stone? Goblet is the core of the series, says Rowling (originally quoted by Anne):

Book Four’s a very very VERY important book. Something very important happens in Book Four. But also, it’s literally a central book. It’s almost the heart of the series, and it’s pivotal.
– J.K. Rowling

 

A Diversion

A reader, Sylvia, wrote to me an interesting message about how we may have true parallels between the first book and the series, but our attention is diverted from the real clues. If you remember, I had trouble associating the fifth task (troll) with Order. Troll said so little, it seemed, not enough for how much Book 5 had in it. Sylvia pointed out that perhaps we ought to look at the troll actually dealt with on Halloween, rather than the knocked-out one within the obstacle course. I quote here Sylvia’s discoveries:

So, instead of looking at Task 3 to find parallels with OotP, let’s look at what happened on Halloween, and THERE we find interesting things:
– Harry tells Ron to confuse the troll/H tells the other 5 to confuse the DEs with ‘Reducto’
– Hermione can’t move, paralyzed by fear/Hr can’t move, she’s unconscious
– H jumps on the troll’s back and pokes his wand in its nose/Neville jumps on Macnair’s back and pokes his wand (or rather Hermione’s) in his eye
– Ron uses ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ on the troll’s club/Harry uses WL on the brains Ron has ‘Accio’ed (I don’t think this particular spell was ever used anywhere else in the series, apart from when they learn it)
– Hr lies to McGonagall/Hr lies to Umbridge (I know, it happens before the 6 go to the Ministry, but I think it’s the only 2 times when Hr lies to a teacher, or to anyone else for that matter)

Like Sylvia, I have decided to treat our first formal obstacle course of seven tasks as an authorial diversion, and the central Triwizard tasks as the real clues. I will, however, once in a while make a few references to the original obstacle course.

 

The Triwizard Tasks and the Seven Books

Triwizard Task 1, Book 1

What does the dragon have in common with the first book? Anne pointed out in “The Triwizard Map” that the dragon has eyes with slit pupils like a cat’s as Voldemort does. I think we might also note that the dragon is a Horntail: the only dragon of the four that has two dangerous ends – a two-sided dragon (like the two-headed Quirrell). The dragon also has something in common with the first task of the first obstacle course. Hagrid treats the dragon like a pet – like Fluffy – and he seems to feel about the Triwizard dragons as he felt about his pet dragon Norbert, about whom we learn in Stone: “you’d think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit” (294). The Mirror of Erised seems to materialize in front of Harry: “Harry seemed to be looking at everything around him through some sort of shimmering, transparent barrier. . .” (GoF 353). And Harry must get the stone – that is the golden egg that sits among the other “cement-colored fellows” (354), “huge granite-gray eggs” (328), like a special kind of stone that contains the essence of life… The first task reproduces Harry’s double challenge in the climax of Book 1, which is dealing with a two-headed monster and trying to get the stone.

Triwizard Task 2, Book 2

What does going beneath the waters to save someone Harry will miss most before it is too late have in common with the second book? Rescuing a Weasley… and a younger sister (Fleur’s) along with him, before s/he dies. This scenario closely parallels Harry’s going beneath the Hogwarts school to rescue Ginny before it is too late. Do you remember “Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever“? (CoS 373). Does it make you think just a little bit of “But past an hour – the prospect’s black, Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back”? (GoF 463). Now Ginny/Harry shippers, don’t get too excited about Ginny being the one Harry will most sorely miss. If I were to see any clues about future books in Book 2, I would see in Fleur’s younger sister a figure of Hermione, and in the second task a situation in which Harry saves both of his friends. The association of Ginny, Gabrielle, and Ron would make in terms of symbols a relationship between Hermione and Ron one of a sister and a brother if Gabrielle is a figure of Ginny in Chamber and a future figure of Hermione. Could Book 2 ever reflect Book 6 and indicate that Harry will rescue both of his friends who will be prisoners? It is possible. If Book 2 reflects Book 6 as Jenna said in “The Plot Mirror,” why should Task 2 of the Stone obstacle course not also reflect Book 6? Negaprioncatcher wrote me the following message:

have you tried looking at them backwards? they fit better 7- mirror of erised – book 1: harry meets voldemort face to face for the first time
6- riddle and phials – book 2: tom riddle and his poisonous (venomous) basilisk. although hermione figures out the riddle of the basilisk, harry has to conquer it alone
5- troll – book 3: no LV, harry must just conquer fear
4- chess – book 4: sacrifice of a knight (Cedric the champion – the first real death) or a pawn (Wormtail. me: I think s/he meant Wormtail’s hand). The tasks (esp. the maze) themselves are very much like a chess game.
3- flying keys -book 5: trying to grasp flying keys is a lot like trying to open the corridor door, the thing that occupies harry’s mind the entire book. It seems too easy to be true – and it is.
2- devil’s snare – book 6: could the half-blood prince have a trap in store for harry?
1- fluffy – book 7: perhaps harry will have to defeat more than LV or travel to the land of the dead to have the final confrontation. Fawkes (music) may be the key

Triwizard Task 3, Book 3

For me, Task 3 is not just the third task of the Tournament (i.e., the Triwizard Maze). It is true that it is in Prisoner that we really get a feeling of the maze that Hogwarts is, with all its chambers and underground passages. We discover the Marauder’s Map. Wasn’t it insightful of Anne to call her editorial “The Triwizard Map”? However, we also can count as our third task the first obstacle within the maze, which is a Dementor. And no challenge is more important to Harry throughout Prisoner than dealing with the Dementors. In fact, I was impressed with the whole psychological aspect of Prisoner that began even with Aunt Marge. When Harry tries to defend himself against her relentless attacks, he keeps his mind on what I could consider “happy thoughts” (the Broom Care Kit). That is so much like sending a Patronus at a Dementor. And up until the climax of the book, when the corporeal stag of light fights off a hundred Dementors, the theme of the Dementor keeps growing (and of fear, the Grim, perhaps fear of death, but for Harry fear of fear, which is also symbolized by the boggart part of the Triwizard Dementor; boggarts are also introduced in Prisoner).

The Four-Point Spell and Rowling’s Maze of Tasks

At this point, I must stop and use the Four-Point Spell to direct me. Which tasks that follow in the maze shall we associate with which books? The reason the answer is not absolutely clear is that we have a total of seven tasks within the maze (wonderful number that is, 7). I am referring, of course, to the tasks that Harry faces, including the unexpected situation of an Imperiused Krum performing the Cruciatus Curse on Cedric: Dementor/boggart, golden mist, Blast-Ended Skrewt, the Cruciatus Curse, sphinx riddle, spider, Cup. Having already used up the first two tasks, how can we determine with certainty which 5 of the remaining 7 are true clues for the remaining books? One idea is to allow for a bit of uncertainty. As the threaders of “Is there a connection between the Potion Riddle in CoS and Hogwarts (DADA) Teachers?” pointed out, Snape’s riddle of the seven potions can’t be completely solved using the information we are given. rjade829 quoted the solution from the website hp-lexicon.org. I have bolded the uncertain parts.

1: Poison
2: Wine. The largest bottle if #6 is not.
3: Poison or Forward Potion if the smallest bottle.
4: Forward Potion if the smallest bottle, or Poison if not.
5: Poison
6: Wine. The largest bottle if #2 is not.
7: Back Potion

As rela00 said in the same thread, “I really am quite intrigued as to why she left those two in-decipherable….”

So perhaps I will allow (at least temporarily) for a little uncertainty in our maze of tasks. I noticed that in her description of Harry’s movements in the maze, Rowling alternates very precise indications with rather uncertain ones. Here are the movements that lead to each task:

The Paths Leading to the Maze Tasks:

Path to Maze Task 1

Before we reach the Dementor, we can draw a map of Harry’s turns in the maze: “After about fifty yards, they reached a fork” (621); “He turned right, and hurried on. . .” (621); “He reached a second fork. ‘Point Me’ he whispered to his palm, holding it flat in his palm. The wand spun around once and pointed toward his right, into solid hedge. That was north, and he knew that he needed to go northwest for the center of the maze. The best he could do was to take the left fork and go right again as soon as possible” (622); “The path ahead was empty too, and when Harry reached a right turn and took it, he again found his way unblocked” (622). Every move of Harry’s has so far been described with precision. At this point, Harry sees first Cedric shaken, with his sleeve smoking, who tells him about the Skrewts. I will come back to the meaning of this encounter. Then Harry sees the Dementor.

Path to Maze Task 2

“Left . . . right . . . left again . . . Twice he found himself facing dead ends. He did the Four-Point Spell again and found that he was going too far east. He turned back, took a right turn. . .” (623). It is at this point that Harry finds the golden mist. If Rowling’s precise indications of his movements are a hint that we still have exact parallels, then this task is associated with Goblet. The fixity of the golden mist may also be a hint that this is a fixed task.

Triwizard Task 4, Book 4

The golden mist is a “turning point” in the maze (it turns Harry upside down). In that way, it makes me think of the mirror of the original obstacle course. A turning point can be seen as central, and Rowling says about Goblet, “it’s literally a central book. It’s almost the heart of the series, and it’s pivotal.” That word “pivotal,”  besides meaning “crucial,” also denotes an act of turning. The golden mist provides a perfect image for the author’s own description of the role of her book. There is also the complete surprise of the task that makes it very like Goblet, in which Harry is supposed to anticipate and prepare for challenges he has never seen before. He tries the Reductor Curse first before deciding to just walk through the mist. But right before he deals with the task, he hears Fleur scream. Fleur to me seems a bit of a female counterpart of Cedric. She is so beautiful that all the guys’ eyes are upon her, but she is also talented. And Cedric is similarly beautiful and talented. Just about all the girls giggle when they think of Cedric (remember Katie, Alicia, and Angelina getting on Oliver Wood’s nerves in Prisoner?). After he walks out of the golden mist (might that also be a figure of the golden Portkey Cup that took him into a different place from which he then returned… as well as the golden web of light spun around Harry and Voldemort when they duel with their mirrored wands?), Harry thinks “One champion down. . .” (625). We know what that means… In Book 4, one of our champions is down – Cedric.

Path to Maze Task 3

Here, precise directions become mixed with completely ambiguous descriptions. We have almost entirely lost Harry: “He paused at a junction of two paths. . .” (625); “Harry took the right fork with a feeling of increasing unease. . .” (625); “He met nothing for ten minutes, but kept running into dead ends. Twice he took the same wrong turning. Finally, he found a new route…” (625). We no longer know where we are and no specific information is given. “Then he rounded another corner. . .” (625). Which corner? And now he meets the Blast-Ended Skrewt.

Triwizard Task 5, a Troll Diversion? Still Book 4?

The unpredictable movements of Skrewts, who are suddenly propelled forward by blasts from their ends – remember how “the Skrewts rampaged around the pumpkin patch” (GoF 368) – would seem to fit with the sudden uncertainty in Harry’s movements that shows up in this passage leading to the Skrewt. There is something about the Skrewt’s appearance that makes me think of a troll: It is “ten feet long” and it has a “thick armor” (625) and it is as stupid as can be. What with the troll being let out on Halloween in Stone, that is the uncertainty of its location and the description of the Skrewt’s movements. I think a Skrewt can be associated with a troll. The troll in the original obstacle course seemed to me especially a symbol of death, because he was a knocked-out body. This difficult to place Skrewt/troll task (does it go in Book 1? 4? 5?) might symbolize the deaths that start with Book 4 and continue after it… or we could start counting in Book 1 with Quirrell – though he was an enemy? The Skrewt simply goes everywhere. It was mentioned earlier in the maze, before Harry sees the Dementor, and it is the only task that is mentioned in more than one place. The Skrewt may also be a subtle reflection of our two or three main villains in Goblet: as a dangerous experimental creature that is a cross between Fire Crabs and Manticores (all these genetic crossings make me think of gene charts, and of my matrix!), the Skrewt reflects the resurrected “Flesh, Blood and Bone” Voldemort and the Polyjuice Moody Crouch. The Skrewt has also reached its full length/height (like the resurrected Voldemort). Its nasty tail makes me think of our third villain, Wormtail: an overgrown rat whose movements are unpredictable, who wanders around the Marauders’ map, who blows up an entire street: the Skrewt’s tail seems to be equipped with a bomb.

Path to Maze Task 4

The directions leading to the next path are extraordinarily precise in contrast with those leading to the Skrewt. Harry takes out his magic compass again: “He took a left path and hit a dead end, a right, and hit another; forcing himself to stop, he performed the Four-Point Spell again, backtracked, and chose a path that would take him northwest” (626). It is at this point that he hears something going on in “the path running parallel to his own” (626). What he hears is Cedric’s yell – “What are you doing?” – and Krum’s voice – “Crucio!” (626). Harry burns a hole through the hedge to get to Cedric. I will reflect later on the symbolic meaning of this form of moving from one tunnel to another.

Triwizard Task 6, Book 5

The very specific spatial indicators in the maze lead me to believe that we can start counting our tasks with certainty again. I was especially gratified by the two parallel paths that take us from Book 4 to Book 5. I remembered that in my 7 x 7 Matrix, the order of the tasks in Books 4 and 5 is the same: i.e. Books 4 and 5 run parallel, like two identical task tunnels. When you look at what happens in Book 5, I think this unexpected task that Harry has to face fits perfectly. Two themes dominate the entirety of Order: sadism and mind control. Umbridge dominates as a sadist who performs Crucio on Harry (and the whole school) in every way she can. And Voldemort is the mind controller that attacks Harry through his dreams. Krum performs Crucio on Cedric because he is under Crouch’s Imperio curse. Harry will also eventually indirectly hurt Sirius because he is mentally manipulated by Voldemort. And in fact, we do lose a player here. Krum’s heroic stature and even his physical description (with a few exceptions, maybe) made me think of Sirius: “Victor Krum was thin, dark, and sallow-skinned, with a large curved nose and thick black eyebrows. He looked like an overgrown bird of prey” (GoF 105). Now let’s look at our first physical description of Sirius: “A mass of filthy, matted hair hung to his elbows. If eyes hadn’t been shining out of the deep, dark sockets, he might have been a corpse. The waxy skin was stretched so tightly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth were bared in a grin” (PoA 339). We have the mass of dark hair, the thin face and the yellow skin. But both Krum and Sirius are attractive in their own way (Sirius used to be very handsome). Sirius dies in Book 5 the way Krum was eliminated from the Tournament at this point. I wonder about the fact that a friend (Krum) turned out to be an enemy, but in fact, he was a friend who was controlled by an enemy. This may apply to Book 5 in the sense that the visions Harry had at first seemed a friend (helping him save Mr. Weasley), but then turned out to be an enemy (leading to the death of Sirius). But it may also apply to Book 4 (friend Moody/enemy Crouch). That may be a reason for the hole burned in the hedge. The two books communicate. I also wonder, since we have had some confusion as to Harry’s movements in the maze so far, and we will continue to do so, if this friendly enemy (or enemy-seeming friend) won’t also turn up in the following task and in book 6.

Path to Maze Task 5

A bit of uncertainty returns to Harry’s movements, but it is qualified as irrelevant since Harry now has a general idea where he is: “Every so often he hit more dead ends, but the increasing darkness made him feel sure he was getting near the heart of the maze” (628). Harry’s certainty that he is nearing the end might also be a certainty that we are nearing the end of the series. We see him stride “down a long, straight path. . .” (628) and then he encounters the sphinx. The sphinx itself moves just a little bit. It paces on the same spot on the path, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, but essentially fixed.

Triwizard Task 7, Book 6

The riddle of the sphinx for our Book 6: Isn’t that just beautiful? Remember Snape’s riddle in Task 6? How many of you were struck by this description of the sphinx?: “It was the body of an over-large lion: great clawed paws and a long yellowish tail ending in a brown tuft. Its head, however, was that of a woman” (628). I was, and I almost got goosebumps when I thought of the passage that we know we will read in Book 6: “He looked rather like an old lion. There were streaks of gray in his mane of tawny hair and his bushy eyebrows; he had keen yellowish eyes behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles and a certain rangy, loping grace even though he walked with a slight limp.” I feel a strange thrill at the correspondence between these two passages. We ought to be super-sleuths now because these are clues we can’t ignore anymore. We must comb the whole site for any possible hints of what is to come in the two remaining future books.

1. The function and appearance of the sphinx

The sphinx gives Harry a problem to solve. If he solves it, he can arrive at his goal faster. If not, he will be attacked. Or he can choose to turn back and try a longer route. The sphinx does not seem evil, only dangerous. She is even a bit attractive: “She turned her long, almond-shaped eyes upon Harry as he approached” (628). There is something graceful about the sphinx’s eye movement that makes me think of Prince‘s lion’s grace. She has a “deep, hoarse voice” (628). There is something positive and reassuring although slightly threatening (the hoarse part) about her voice. The Sphinx emanates as certain calm as she gets ready to recite: “The sphinx sat down upon her hind legs, in the very middle of the path, and recited” (629). When Harry asks her to repeat, “She blinked at him, smiled, and repeated the poem” (629). I like the sphinx. She seems to be patient and understanding. As Harry thinks aloud, “She merely smiled her mysterious smile” (630). I can’t help getting goosebumps now because I am beginning to see both our lion and Harry’s mother combined in the image of the sphinx. In pictures, Harry’s mother merely smiles and waves. She is the first person he describes when he looks in the Mirror of Erised: “He looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind his reflection was smiling at him and waving” (SS 258). Then, we have a description of her: “She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes – her eyes are just like mine, Harry thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green – exactly the same shape, but then he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time” (SS 258-9). Why is Lily both smiling and crying? Is the crying for Harry’s earlier years, and the smiling for his later ones? I was especially interested in the shape of Lily’s eyes, after that dash. We know the shape of the sphinx’s eyes. I bet you do remember, in “Snape’s Worst Memory,” the description of Lily’s eyes: “It was one of the girls from the lake edge. She had thick, dark red hair that fell to her shoulders and startlingly green almond-shaped eyes – Harry’s eyes” (OotP 647). Those dashes… Might this sphinx also be Harry? She has Lily’s eyes, but they are also Harry’s eyes. Is Harry part lion, heir of Godric Gryffindor, and part Lily? I think the sphinx embodies more than one character that we will see in Book 6. (What if the X in its name also connects it to “Felix Felicis”?) We know Lily’s eyes will be important. The fact that the sphinx does not speak to Harry may indicate that Harry will be able to communicate with his mother only in a limited way if he will. This passage suggests that he will. But he won’t have full access to her. Harry talks to the image of his mother, but he is really talking to himself. Harry may have to solve a problem on his own but with lessons he has learned from his best friends and an encouraging smile and riddle from his mother. The knowledge that the sphinx could attack if Harry does not solve the riddle correctly may indicate that one of the characters the sphinx represents is dangerous. Does dangerous have to mean evil?

2. The text of the riddle

First think of the person who lives in disguise,/ Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.

Is this a character that we have met already? We know that Snape deals in secrets, but does he live in disguise? And he tells one or two nasty “lies,” maybe (that he sees no difference in Hermione’s teeth or that he “accidentally” dropped Harry’s potion), but most of the time, I see Snape as just straightforwardly speaking his mind, especially his anger. As much as he says he doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, I’d say he does to some extent, where his hatred of Harry is concerned. The description of the sphinx seems to indicate someone different. We might also think of Crouch/Moody, but again, the “tells naught but lies” part does not fit with him since he actually tells a lot of truths. He says he hates nothing more than a Death Eater who walked free. He meant something else than what Harry understood, but nevertheless he spoke the truth. Harry’s first guess is “imposter,” and then “spy” (630). We know that Crouch was “imposter Moody.” That was Harry’s first guess, but then, “No, that’s not my guess! A – spy? I’ll come back to that . . .” (630). The correct answer is “spy” for this task, and Book 6, and therefore, it is not Moody. He was more of an imposter than a spy. We have a spy in our midst at Hogwarts in Book 6. (He could be a spy working on our side.) Now if this is a person Harry would “be unwilling to kiss,”  I would definitely say the answer is Snape. It fits almost too well as a joke.

Next, tell me what’s always the last thing to mend,/ The middle of middle and end of the end?

To me, this clue is about death and resurrection. I could be wrong. The answer is the letter D. The letter D is also the first letter of the word “death.” The end of the end makes me think of death. The middle of middle makes me think of two things. One is the center of our maze (getting past the sphinx will lead Harry to the center of the maze), and in the center and end of the maze lies the dangerous Portkey that takes Harry and Cedric to a cemetery and to Cedric’s death. In the 7 x 7 Matrix, the troll is the central task: the task associated with death. Is that Harry’s task? The first part of the clue, “the last thing to mend,” makes me think that death can be “mended.” Will Harry die and be resurrected somehow? Or does “what’s always the last thing to mend” mean you should not attempt to mend this at all? It may also take us to the errors that are mended at the end of each book, the recurring issue of the misplaced trust: Quirrell, Tom Riddle’s diary, Peter, Moody, Voldemort’s snake vision. These are traitorous “friends,” mistakes that are “mended” at the end. What will the mistake be in Book 6? Or in Book 7? I know I am jumping ahead a bit. I will return to the 6th Book. Remember what Negaprioncatcher says about the first task, Fluffy, representing the seventh book: “1- Fluffy – book 7: perhaps Harry will have to defeat more than LV or travel to the land of the dead to have the final confrontation. Fawkes (music) may be the key.” I can’t help thinking of how many times Harry has to go “under the ground” in each book. In Stone, the chapter of the obstacle course is called “Through the Trap Door.” That would seem like a door into the world of the dead. When Harry is selected as a Triwizard champion, he must go through a door again: “Well . . . through the door, Harry,” said Dumbledore. He wasn’t smiling” (273). There is something foreboding about this door (and the lack of a smile on Dumbledore’s part). We might remember the “door” that is a “trap” in Order, behind which lies the Department of Mysteries and the Death Chamber in which Sirius dies and disappears. A question might be asked, though: is death a real solution, or a trap? The company D keeps in this riddle suggests that it may be a solution offered by a spy. Is the spy an enemy or a friend? The description “tells naught but lies” sounds like it is describing someone evil. Is that the case?

And finally give me the sound often heard/ During a search for a hard-to-find word.

The riddle may cease to be meaningful for us at this point (except for the kissing part on the last line). It may be that a “hard-to-find word” will prove to be important.

Anne’s take on the final “kiss” in the riddle is that it foreshadows the threat of the Dementor’s Kiss:

Before he can reach the center of the maze, Harry’s way is blocked by the Sphinx, who demands that he answer a riddle (hmm…Riddle…where have we heard that name before?). The most important part of the riddle is the end, which reads, ‘Now… answer me this, which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?’ (629 GoF) My immediate thought when I read this was, ‘a Dementor!’ Of course I was wrong, but that answer seems to fit better with Ron, who has the fear of spiders. Kissing is what Dementors do best, and, well…. JKR said about Harry once in an interview, ‘He might well be receiving another kiss (or two) but I’m not saying who the kisser’s going to be…’ (World Book Day Chat). This leaves the options wide open for a Dementor.

The threat of the Dementor’s Kiss is indeed something to remember in the context of death and spies. And the fact that it is the last word of the riddle may not be the least of clues. Rowling has already given us the last word of the series: “scar.” She puts some thought into these last words. Who will be getting this final nasty Kiss? The biggest traitor of all – Voldemort? The biggest spy of all – Snape? Peter? Harry?

3. A couple of concluding remarks about the sphinx

When Harry guesses spider, the sphinx moves aside. Not before giving him a last smile, but this is an entirely different kind than the ones given so far. It reminds me of Umbridge’s sadistic smile. It clearly reflects she knows what’s waiting for Harry beyond her: “‘A creature I wouldn’t want to kiss… a spider!” The sphinx smiled more broadly. She got up, stretched her front legs, and then moved aside for him to pass” (630). There is something both good and naive about Harry’s gratitude: “‘Thanks!’ said Harry, and, amazed at his own brilliance, he dashed forward” (630). He doesn’t know why the sphinx is smiling.

Harry’s brilliance in this task comes from the fact that he can embody his two friends: “It was Hermione who was good at this sort of thing, not him” (629). Harry reflects before he solves the riddle. And it is Ron’s spider that he doesn’t want to kiss. Harry becomes both Hermione and Ron. He reasons like Hermione. And he becomes Ron by recognizing his fear. We might conclude that both Ron and Hermione are a tremendous help to Harry in the 6th Book, either in person or in spirit. Ron and Hermione are present with Harry during the riddle almost the same way that his mother is.

Path to Maze Task 6

When we finally reach the center of the maze, the directions are given again clearly by Rowling: “He had to be close now, he had to be…. His wand was telling him he was bang on course; as long as he didn’t meet anything too horrible, he might have a chance…. Harry broke into a run. He had a choice of paths up ahead. ‘Point Me!’ he whispered again to his wand, and it spun around and pointed him to the right-hand one. He dashed up this one and saw light ahead” (631). There is something about this detail that makes me feel this wand is almost like a person. Harry speaks to it. And this wand is someone or something intimately related to Harry, because a whisper indicates intimacy and trust… and secrecy. We have heard that Lily’s wand (or her talent for charms?) will prove important. Will it help as a guide for Harry? Will he be secretive about it? It was Hermione who taught him the Four-Point Spell. Is she his intimate, trusted, secret guide? Earlier in the maze, Harry’s whispering to his wand – ‘Point Me’ he whispered to his palm, holding it flat in his palm” (622) – reminded me of an earlier image in Goblet of Draco whispering to his palm when he holds a beetle (Rita Skeeter). Skeeter is a “bug,” a spying device. Does Harry then put his trust in a spy to direct him? A spy provided to him by Hermione? (Skeeter did end up serving Harry in the end with Hermione’s help. But there is more to this guiding spy. Is this a spy on Harry’s side (Snape), or someone who, like Moody, will lead him into a trap? Is the spy of the riddle an enemy or an ally of Harry?

Wizard Tasks 8/9, Book 7

The first thing that amazed me when Harry dashed past the sphinx was that he “saw light ahead” (631). If you remember, before Harry meets the sphinx, “the increasing darkness made him feel sure he was getting near the heart of the maze” (628). But in the center of the maze we have not darkness, but light. The brilliant light of the golden Triwizard Cup: “The Triwizard Cup was gleaming on a plinth a hundred yards away. Suddenly a dark figure hurtled out onto the path in front of him” (631). Darkness follows light again. This alternation between light and dark images makes me wonder if it is connected to the cycle of life and death. But which will be last? Light or darkness? Life or death? Our very last image in the chapter is of diffracted light (“swirling color”): “Instantly, Harry felt a jerk somewhere behind his navel. His feet had left the ground. He could not unclench the hand holding the Triwizard Cup; it was pulling him onward in a howl of wind and swirling color, Cedric at his side” (635). If we jump to the following chapter, we find darkness again: “They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard. . .” (636). The third task chapter ends on a positive, though in the context alarming, note. The “howl of wind” sounds a bit frightening. Yet one of our best friends is a werewolf. And the “swirling colors” may be positive, or they may be like Saruman’s “evil” many-colored robes in The Lord of the Rings, as opposed to white ones. Nevertheless, the only evidence we have here is that Harry has embarked on “the next adventure.”

Shall we tread into the next dark chapter of death, or end with ascension into wind and color? But after the darkness in the following chapter, wind and color return, sounding more positive than before: “He heard Voldemort’s scream of fury at the same moment that he felt the jerk behind his navel that meant the Portkey had worked – it was speeding him away in a whirl of wind and color, and Cedric along with him. . . . They were going back” (669). It is interesting that Voldemort cries with fury “at the same moment” that Harry feels the jerk behind his navel. That jerk meant that “the Portkey had worked.” I sense there is something more behind this. I wonder what it is the gadget that will have worked. It is clear that the pull on the navel, the former umbilical cord, is symbolically connected to Voldemort’s defeat here. The navel pull at the time of separation between Harry and Voldemort may mean that the gadget that worked has something to do with the connection between Harry and Voldemort. The connection between the wands was, after all, broken in Goblet at the right time.

Rowling must have chosen to have Portkeys make you feel a pull on your navel (a scar where the umbilical cord used to be) for a reason. In the Discussion room for What is Voldemort Missing? aimerrockin posted the following idea concerning why Voldemort survived:

The soul has to ‘go on’ through the archway in the DoM in the afterworld.
Well. Why didn’t Voldi’s Soul ‘go on’?
I think normally a soul is simply FORCED to go in the afterworld.
But Voldi’s soul didn’t. It just STAYED in this world.
Why?
(It is so simple I could cry)
It was connected to Harry.
Voldemort’s soul is connected to Harry and therefore it couldn’t go on.

My reaction (posted under MagicLantern) was that this connection is something like an umbilical cord. The connection between Harry and Voldemort keeps Voldemort alive like an umbilical cord does a baby: and we do see Voldemort as a baby. In order to be “reborn,” Voldemort spills and takes a bit of Harry’s blood; therefore, he treats Harry as his mother. Harry shares (unwillingly, which is an important detail) his blood with Voldemort in order to give him life as (or rather unlike) Lily spilled her blood (willingly) to preserve the life of baby Harry.

I have jumped ahead a little. Before we actually reach the end of the series, before Harry can actually touch the Cup, we have to deal with an unexpected obstacle: one that Harry should have been prepared for, had he paid careful attention to the riddle and been in touch with his or Ron’s fears: “Suddenly a dark figure hurtled out onto the path in front of him” (631). This obstacle that suddenly hurtles out onto the path is a moving task between two relatively fixed points: the sphinx and the Cup. We may find the challenge in either Book 6 or Book 7.

The dark hurtling figure is a spider. Who is this spider?

I think I know. It is Snape. But it may also be Voldemort.

Snape

1. Physical description

Snape is a dark figure. He swoops around Hogwarts like an “overgrown bat.” And this is our description of the spider: “‘Stupefy! Impedimenta! Stupefy!’ But it was no use – the spider was either so large, or so magical, that the spells were doing no more than aggravating it. Harry had one horrifying glimpse of eight shining black eyes and razor-sharp pincers before it was upon him. He was lifted into the air in its front legs. . . .” (631). Can we so easily forget those pincers? We’ve seen them before: “A hand had closed tight over his upper arm, closed with a pincerlike grip.Wincing, Harry looked around to see who had hold of him, and saw, with a thrill of horror, a fully grown, adult-sized Snape standing right beside him, white with rage” (OotP 649). Harry is also lifted into the air from the Pensieve by the adult Snape. The “fully grown, adult-sized” description of Snape makes him a bit similar to the gigantic spider, of whom we have also seen a younger version in something like a Pensieve: Tom Riddle’s diary. This spider was Hagrid’s pet. Hagrid trusted him with his friends, but Aragog was not to be trusted. Might “Dumbledore’s Giant Mistake” be somewhat similar to Hagrid’s mistake?: He trusts Snape and he shouldn’t? Snape is loyal to Dumbledore alone, but to no one else? Doesn’t being loyal to Dumbledore, however, mean taking care of everyone else that Dumbledore protects?

2. Description of movement

Snape’s pulling Harry out of the Pensieve gives Harry the same sensations he has when he travels by Portkey to the graveyard and back: “Then, with a swooping feeling as though he had turned head over heels in midair, his feet hit the stone floor of Snape’s dungeon, and he was standing again beside the Pensieve on Snape’s desk in the shadowy, present-day Potions master’s study” (OotP 649) The turning head over heels reminds me of the golden mist as well, and of the Time-Turner. The golden mist task was one of trust, it seems to me. Would the designers of the task do something so insane as to have their champions fall into outer space? After the second task, Harry has learned the lesson: In a game, teachers won’t play with death. But the war against Voldemort is no longer a game. Trusting this thing that turns him upside down and taking a second step through it seems to be the wise choice. Is that what Harry must do with Snape? But there are also negative parallels with the Snape scene. When Harry reaches the graveyard, we seem to reread the scene in Snape’s office – “his feet hit the stone floor”: “Harry felt his feet slam into the ground; his injured leg gave way, and he fell forward; his hand let go of the Triwizard Cup at last” (GoF 636). Does this mean that Snape will be the key that will take Harry to Voldemort? Is that good or bad? When Harry returns to Hogwarts, again we have the same violent shock: “Harry felt himself slam flat into the ground . . .” (GoF 670). Does that mean Snape will help Harry come back? Snape did bring Harry back from the Pensieve memory to the present, but his motivation was not Harry’s safety.

Snape and Voldemort

How the spider is defeated leads us to both Snape and Voldemort. Harry and Cedric try three spells on the spider. The two that work are the Disarming Charm, the spell that Harry uses first to release himself from the spider’s pincers, and the Stunning Spell, the spell that Harry and Cedric use together on the spider and that help to defeat him: “Without pausing to think, he aimed high at the spider’s underbelly, as he had done with the Skrewt, and shouted ‘Stupefy!’ just as Cedric yelled the same thing. The two spells combined did what one alone had not: The spider keeled over sideways, flattening a nearby hedge, and strewing the path with a tangle of hairy legs” (632). I think the mentioning of the Skrewt may also emphasize the fact that we have a wandering task here. I tend to think the spider goes with Book 7 because Harry first saw the Cup before he saw the spider, but issues of trusting a spy seem a very important part of the riddle of Book 6. The “tangle of hairy legs” seems a visual reminder of the Devil’s Snare. I have pointed out that in the second Triwizard task, Gillyweed is like fake Devil’s Snare. It seems to suffocate Harry, but it really helps him breathe underwater. Is the spider in the maze a real Devil’s Snare?

The kind of spells used and the unison in which they are performed against the spider are reminiscent of the scene with Snape in the Shrieking Shack. The attack of the trio on Snape is described in almost identical fashion: “Harry made up his mind in a split second (“Without pausing to think…” GoF). Before Snape could take even one step toward him, he had raised his wand. ‘Expelliarmus!’ he yelled – except that his wasn’t the only voice that shouted (“The two spells combined… ” GoF). There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out” (PoA 361). The combined spell the trio launches at Snape acts as both the Disarming Charm and the Stunning Spell. In Goblet, it is not Snape who is bleeding, but Harry – from the leg. Harry is shaking, and he also has a broken leg after this encounter. Snape’s violence toward Harry after he takes him out of the Pensieve also leaves him physically injured and badly bruised.

The spider has many eyes. That is a perfect symbol for a spy. Snape may actually be Voldemort’s spy who has many eyes well-suited for the purpose of spying. But Snape may be spying on Voldemort, rather than for Voldemort. The many eyes of the spider may also indicate that the monster stands for more than one character. How different is Snape from Voldemort? There are at least a couple of chilling similarities between them, in the way Snape and Voldemort think or express themselves. We learn something of Voldemort’s way of thinking when Dumbledore tells Harry he cared about him too much, and thus, his plan almost failed: “In other words, I acted exactly as Voldemort expects we fools who love to act” (OotP 838). And what does Snape savagely tell Harry during Occlumency lessons? “Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily – weak people, in other words – they stand no chance against his powers! He will penetrate your mind with absurd ease, Potter!” (OotP 536). But what chilled me was that Snape used with Hermione a similar expression that Voldemort used when he killed Harry’s mother. Lily and Voldemort: “‘Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!’ ‘Stand aside, you silly girl . . . stand aside, now…” (PoA 179). Hermione and Snape: “‘But if – if there was a mistake -‘ ‘KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!’ Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. ‘DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!'” If it were not for the sort of humorous tone of “looking suddenly quite deranged,” I would get really worried about the evil quotient of our Potions master. There is a difference in the tone that Snape uses, though. He screams and seems afraid. Voldemort sounded much more indifferent, condescending, and calculating. Snape may simply be marked forever by that dark mark that never comes off, by certain psychological affinities to Voldemort which permitted him once to “switch to the dark side.”

What I tend to think is that Snape may blunder yet one more time before the end. He may interfere with Harry’s final plan to defeat Voldemort because he simply does not have the psychology necessary to understand that Harry is a destined hero meant to vanquish the Dark Lord… through a force connected to love. I have doubts about Snape being in on the prophecy. There may be a real big, stupid fight with Snape before all is said and done, in which Snape may think he knows best. Then again, had Harry been stopped by the spider, he could have sent up red sparks and never ended up in the graveyard with Voldemort. But maybe that will be Snape’s failing: he will not realize that Harry is the one who must fight with Voldemort, not he. Snape does not allow Harry to say the “Dark Lord’s name” because supposedly Harry is not a powerful enough of a wizard: “‘Professor Dumbledore says his name,’ said Harry quietly. ‘Dumbledore is an extremely powerful wizard,’ Snape muttered” (PoA 532). Snape goes on to say that it is not Harry’s job to spy on Voldemort, but his: “‘That is just as well, Potter,’ said Snape coldly, ‘because you are neither special nor important, and it is not up to you to find out what the Dark Lord is saying to his Death Eaters.’ ‘No – that’s your job, isn’t it?’ Harry shot at him. ‘Yes, Potter,’ he said, his eyes glinting. That is my job'” (OotP 591). Those glinting eyes when Snape says it is his job to spy on Voldemort make me see the spy/spider’s “eight shining black eyes” (631). Indeed, it will be Harry’s turn to say to Snape: it is not your job to fight Voldemort. That is my job. But ambitious Snape who insists that Harry is neither special nor important will have a hard time registering it. I wonder if it is out of ambition that Snape left Voldemort. He is friends with Lucius, and we notice Lucius doesn’t like to grovel too much before the Dark Lord either. But it could be that there is some sense of decent respect for human life in Snape beneath all that surface nastiness and that he may have left Voldemort for better reasons. Nevertheless, he did goad Lupin’s students on to learn how to kill a werewolf. Or does he have Umbridge notions about which human lives are worth preserving?

Voldemort

The spells used on the spider can also lead us in the direction of Voldemort. The Disarming Charm is the first spell used against the spider, like the first spell used against Voldemort. It releases Harry from the spider’s pincers, and from Voldemort’s pincerlike trap in the graveyard. That knife of Pettigrew that slices into Harry’s arm is like the spider’s pincer. And Harry is tied up. Harry is completely stuck at first, but then the Disarming Charm saves him. Except that the Disarming Charm used against Voldemort functioned differently from the regular spell because of the wand with which it was performed. The Disarming Charm used against Snape by the trio functioned differently because of the number of people who aimed it. It may be that a second Stunning Spell will completely defeat Voldemort, but that like the Disarming Charm in Goblet, while the spell may be familiar, it will have a different result than we expect because of either the wand or the circumstances in which it is used or the fact that Harry is not alone in using it. The spider seems to be not just Stupefied but also burst to smithereens (okay… tangled smithereens). That is the impression I get when reading: “The spider keeled over sideways, flattening a nearby hedge, and strewing the path with a tangle of hairy legs” (632). Although we know that the spider is still in one piece, the description of a “strewing” (scattering) of “hairy legs” (body parts: like so many fingers…) makes it sound as if bits and pieces of the spider are all over the place (I remember Pettigrew). This may also be a symbol of the destruction of the whole war machine controlled by Voldemort. The last we see from Snape when Harry runs from his office in the Pensieve incident is a projectile that bursts over Harry’s head: “‘Get out, get out, I don’t want to see you in this office ever again!’ And as Harry hurtled toward the door, a jar of dead cockroaches exploded over his head” (OotP 650). The “hurtled” verb used to describe Harry’s movement, followed by the image of an exploding jar of cockroaches over his head, somehow fits with the hurtling spider who eventually strews the path with its hairy legs. Does that mean Snape will “throw Voldemort at Harry” in a bout of fury? There, have him, fight with him! But that might actually lead to Voldemort’s destruction. I don’t think that’s such a bad metaphor for Voldemort: “a jar of dead cockroaches.” Snape will probably be a useful spy on Voldemort’s whereabouts, but also a temporary stubborn barrier for Harry. And he might do something else surprising in the end, out of sheer anger.

United Against Voldemort

The theme of unity in dealing with Voldemort continues beyond the spider scene in which the combined spells defeat the monster. A rather extended debate between Cedric and Harry follows. This is, in part, a discussion of their cooperation throughout the Tournament. Mainly, it has to do with deciding between acting noble and sacrificing oneself or acting together and winning together. I wonder if Ron will play Cedric’s part in the climax of the series. Ron is present through his fear when Harry solves the riddle of the spider. And Cedric and Harry take on together Ron’s worst fear: a giant spider. The debate of who should have “the Cup” also seems a likely one to have between Harry and Ron. I am thinking of the Quidditch Cup. We know Harry is the best Seeker Hogwarts has seen in 100 years, and that ought to qualify him for team captaincy (nevertheless, Ron is the best chess player Hogwarts has ever seen, and doesn’t that fit better with being a Captain?). Ron sees himself being Captain in the Mirror of Erised. Ron may get the Quidditch Cup as team Captain, and Harry may get the Question Mark Cup. There is something about Cedric’s look of desire cast at the Cup that made me think of Ron’s look cast at the locked room in the Department of Mysteries. Cedric: “Harry saw the longing expression on his face in its golden light” (GoF 632). Ron: “‘But what if that’s the one?’ said Ron, staring at it with a mixture of apprehension and longing” (OotP 776). Ron was also pushing eagerly against that locked door in the Department of Mysteries. He expresses fascination for the very thing that marks Harry’s destiny.

What if after Snape, Harry has a second competitor eager to take on Voldemort rather than letting Harry do his job: Ron? The discussion between Harry and Cedric is all about noble sacrifice. And I think it may be Ron’s weakness – and strength, but perhaps also a weakness: that may be where Slytherin prudence may come in to complement Gryffindor courage: don’t jump in too quickly to sacrifice yourself – Ron will probably want to sacrifice himself rather than let Harry go alone. Harry loses patience with this attitude on Cedric’s part: “‘Stop being noble,’ said Harry irritably. ‘Just take it and then we can both get out of here'” (GoF 633). At the end of the second task, it was Ron who was irritated with Harry: “I hope you didn’t waste time down there acting the hero!” (503) Of course, Ron changes his tune when he finds out the points Harry got: “‘There you go, Harry!’ Ron shouted over the noise. ‘You weren’t being thick after all – you were showing moral fiber!” (507). Now it is Harry’s turn to be angry with Cedric’s hesitations. When Cedric offers the Cup to Harry, “He felt angry; his leg was very painful, he was aching all over from trying to throw off the spider, and after all his efforts, Cedric had beaten him to it, just as he’d beaten Harry to ask Cho to the ball” (633). I see so much of Ron in this scene with Cedric that I wonder if Ron doesn’t get Hermione in Prince. Ron has become prefect in Book 5, and Harry had similar thoughts. He tried to be noble but he was a bit irked. Suppose in Prince Ron gets the Quidditch team captaincy (or in Book 7), in addition to Hermione. And in Book 7 he is made Head Boy. Now he suddenly shows up in Harry’s path and offers to take from Harry the only achievement that is left to him, his predestined one-on-one fight with Voldemort. I can see Harry having his moment of extreme tension and anger. And he might suddenly realize that it somehow bothers him that Ron got to Hermione before him (like Cedric got to Cho).

There is something rather Snape-like in Harry’s initial envious bitterness toward Cedric in this scene: “‘You told me about the dragons,’ Cedric said. ‘I would’ve gone down in the first task if you hadn’t told me what was coming.’ ‘I had help on that too,’ Harry snapped, trying to mop up his bloody leg with his robes. ‘You helped me with the egg – we’re square'” (633). Of our characters, we’ve seen Snape “snap” the most often. And this “snapped” is followed immediately by the bloody leg beneath Harry’s robes, which reminds me all too perfectly of Snape’s mangled and bloody leg beneath his lifted robes after he has dealt with Fluffy in Stone. Harry may be in spiritual danger in this confrontation. At the same time, he may have a right, like Snape did when he told Harry it wasn’t Harry’s job to spy on Voldemort, to tell Ron that it is not his job to fight Voldemort.

We can see that Cedric is being stubborn too: “‘You should’ve got more points on the second task,’ said Cedric mulishly. ‘You stayed behind to get all the hostages. I should’ve done that.’ ‘I was the only one who was thick enough to take that song seriously!’ said Harry bitterly. ‘Just take the Cup!'” (633). This talk of hostages makes me wonder if we will have a similar situation on a grander scale in either Prince or Book 7. Would Harry’s being “thick enough to take that song seriously” relate in any way to his taking the prophecy seriously (although Trelawney’s harsh voice is in no way like a song)? What if McGonagall is right after all, and Divination is a very imprecise art? What if Harry doesn’t have to play the hero alone of all the champions? Cedric says a resolute no to Harry’s insistence that he take the Cup. “He stepped over the spider’s entangled legs to join Harry, who stared at him. Cedric was serious. He was walking away from the sort of glory Hufflepuff House hadn’t had in centuries” (634).

In the end, Harry might see Ron’s desire with different eyes and decide to allow him to “share his cup.” This makes me think of a rather Biblical scene: “Take this cup away from me.” In principle, this pushing away of the Cup back and forth between Harry and Cedric is noble, but in practice, it has a bit of a dark irony to it. What their offer really means is “You die!” “No, you die!” They don’t realize that is what they are pushing each other toward. They think they are saying just the opposite: “You have the glory!” “No, you have the glory!” This pushing away of the Cup task, so reminiscent of Jesus’s begging God to spare him the experience of death, may nevertheless foreshadow a possible resurrection.

Is the prophecy right? Is it meaningless that it actually allowed for two boys initially? The phrasing is a bit confusing: “AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER” (OotP 841). There is not an absolute exclusion of having Harry and a friend defeat Voldemort, is there? Unless we were to look at the singular of “hand.” It seems that only one hand is to kill Voldemort, not more. Ron, in his eagerness to help, in his desire to be noble, may annoy Harry because of a certain greediness to do everything. And he may also err in not understanding that the prophecy does not allow him to participate, that he can add nothing except lose his life. He may think it a better idea to die with Harry if Harry must die. But Harry may actually survive where others wouldn’t. It may, on the other hand, be that Harry needs Ron to vanquish the Dark Lord, that a joint effort is necessary, as with the combined spells. Two hearts may be stronger than one where that force that is connected to love and courage is concerned. But while Harry may have the strength to survive the impact of matching up against Voldemort, Ron may not have that strength, and he may die, and that would be a sad glory for Ron. Too much of a tragedy: Harry returning to Hogwarts, seeing Hermione, sharing with her the thought that Ron is gone. Like with Cho, we could never see their relationship start. However, Cedric’s death does not have to predict Ron’s death if we don’t move on to the next chapter. Cedric had three dangerous encounters associated with the maze. One was a smoking sleeve (the Skrewt). The other was Crucio pain (Krum). And the last one, outside the maze, is death. If only we can keep Ron inside the maze. If only we can keep Ron on the chessboard. We don’t want to lose him. Maybe there don’t always have to be sacrifices.

If we look at our trio, we immediately realize they represent the four Houses of Hogwarts. Harry is both Gryffindor and Slytherin because of his connection to Voldemort. Ron is Hufflepuff. And Hermione is Ravenclaw. For a moment, Harry may be tempted by the offer to take the Cup himself. He imagines taking the Cup, shining with glory, impressing Cho, “‘… and then the picture faded, and he found himself staring at Cedric’s shadowy, stubborn face.’ ‘Both of us,’ Harry said. ‘What?’ ‘We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.'” Harry will allow Ron to share. Is there something wrong with this generous instinct? Will Ron’s death result from it? But it doesn’t have to end that way. It can simply end with unity. Cedric is disarmed by Harry’s offer to share the Cup: “He unfolded his arms” (634). And hands suddenly become very important, like they are in the prophecy. Cedric helps Harry toward the plinth where the cup stands, and “When they had reached it, they both held a hand out over one of the Cup’s gleaming handles” (634). The singular of hand is used. Both Harry and Cedric perform the task, each with one hand. “He and Cedric both grasped a handle” (635). Again, the singular is used. There are two handles and the sentence could have been phrased using the plural.

How does our series end?

“Instantly, Harry felt a jerk somewhere behind his navel. His feet had left the ground. He could not unclench the hand holding the Triwizard Cup; it was pulling him onward in a howl of wind and swirling color, Cedric at his side” (635). So our last image, if this is meant to be where the series stops, is one of flight and color and unity. Swirling color sounds like a mixture of colors: perhaps the Hogwarts Houses will mix their colors and their students. “It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.” And the last image of the chapter is “Cedric at his side,” indicating unity. Harry and Cedric, Harry and Ron act together, stay together. And then the chapter ends. Perhaps neither will die. Perhaps both Harry and Ron will remain on the chessboard.

If they do both travel somewhere, when Harry returns with Cedric’s body, it seems he has a mission, a reason to come back to Hogwarts: Perhaps that will be Ron’s function in joining Harry, to give him a reason to return.

 

Conclusion: A Bit Beyond the Triwizard Tournament

Last Words

We know that the last word of the series will be “scar”: It seems Rowling has confirmed this. Does “side,” the last word of this chapter, have anything else to do with scar other than that it is a four-letter word that begins with an S? But maybe that is a hint that we should stop our reading right there. What can the meaning of “side” have to do with “scar”? This particular side does indicate a connection, involving the Portkey, the umbilical cord, and the scar: Cedric is by Harry’s side when they are connected by the Portkey that pulls on their navel. I think also of the connection between Harry and Voldemort that allows Harry’s mind to be transported into the Department of Mysteries and into the Riddle House if the connection were a Portkey.

We know Ron “wants Harry’s scar.” He did get some very deep scars in the Department of Mysteries. He had been cursed to be a little loony, and it was in that mentally altered condition that he was fascinated with the brains in the tank. Those tentacles of memories are so much like the Devil’s Snare. At first, Ron liked them, but then he could not break free of them. It may be that Ron will make a “friend” that will turn out to be an enemy. Since Tom Riddle was a memory, we can imagine the nature of this enemy who will become a friend of Ron’s (or maybe he won’t be a friend, just someone who will have access to Ron, though). He will Imperius Ron to desire the “scar” or to “help” Harry defeat Voldemort, to desire to “share Harry’s cup.” In the Department of Mysteries, Ron finally gets “his wish” when he gets scarred by memories (Tom Riddle…). Let’s hope he does not get it in Prince or Book 7 if that will not help Harry and only hurt Ron. Dumbledore himself steps back from Harry’s task.

We have another “side” ending Chapter 35, “Veritaserum”: “The insane smile lit his features once more, and his head drooped onto his shoulder as Winky wailed and sobbed at his side” (691). Whom might Crouch, Jr. and Winky represent here? We know that Crouch is Kissed in the end by a Dementor, but he has not been Kissed yet. He only has been Stupefied and has had some Veritaserum. The “insane smile” makes me think of insane Ron in the Department of Mysteries, and the drooping head makes me think of Ron’s feebleness in that same scene. Would that be Hermione, the champion of house-elves, who will cry at insane and caught Ron’s side?

Something tells me Ron will be in great peril, but he won’t suffer Cedric’s or Barty Crouch, Jr.’s fate. And maybe Rowling gives us just enough to keep us guessing, but not enough to make us certain. Such may be the purpose of the uncertainty left in Snape’s riddle of the seven vials. At some point, we may have to accept a bit of uncertainty in the future. Unless the great hint about the end really is found in Goblet when something very important happens, according to Rowling, in this book that is pivotal, central, very, very, VERY important. All those dead ends and wrong turns, all those misleading clues, may be resolved into certainty if we guide ourselves toward the heart of Book 4. Would that be the Portkey? Harry is accompanied by neither Ron nor Hermione when he touches the final central task: but by Cedric: if Cedric is not Ron, who is he? Someone who will accompany Harry in a task that was meant for Harry alone, perhaps in order to help Harry, perhaps so that Harry may not be alone, perhaps in order to embark upon the next adventure, and with his example give Harry the courage to do the same? Might that be Dumbledore, the first champion of Hogwarts? Maybe that is Dumbledore’s plan: something about Dumbledore being present will prevent Harry from dying.

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